For years, there has been no transparency regarding what is in the cleaning products we use in our homes. California has finally passed a law that will change this. The Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017, signed in October, requires the ingredients in cleaning products to be listed on both product labels and online. In particular, this includes chemicals whose ability to harm human health or the environment has been recognized by established scientific authoritative bodies. Under this law, the mandatory disclosure also applies to ingredients in fragrance mixtures, which have been considered protected trade secrets until now.
Workers—particularly janitors and housekeeping staff—are exposed to chemicals in cleaning products every day. Cleaning ingredients vary in the type of problems they can pose for workers: some cause acute allergic reactions, while others are associated with chronic or long-term effects such as asthma and cancer. Work-related asthma among California’s janitors and cleaners is nearly double the rate of the overall workforce.
The EPA has long declared that the air quality in our homes is 3-5 times worse for our health than the air outside. Much of that is due to the products we use. This law will start to reverse that effect. Once people become aware of some of the harmful additives that have been previously hidden, companies will be forced to upgrade the quality of their ingredients. We expect that companies manufacturing products sold throughout the country will not make special formulations for California. Thus we believe this California law will, within a few years, improve the air quality of homes around the country.
In the meantime, check your labels and research the ingredients used. Chemicals found in some ordinary cleaning products are known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects, asthma, and other serious health effects. Ingredient transparency will allow you to make the right choices for your family’s health.
One of the leaders in the fight for disclosure in cleaning products was a San Francisco based organization called The Breast Cancer Prevention Partners. The Breast Cancer Prevention Partners is the leading national organization working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating exposures to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease. Learn more or make a donation to support future achievements like this.